The Lodge began it’s a more adventurous fundraising efforts back in the mid ’80s with the 100-mile trek along the West Highland Way. Four Lodge members agreed to take on the arduous task and as well as any physical preparations they would have made, they also collected sponsorship which promised to raise the Lodge a great deal of money upon completion of the task.
Planning is imperative to ensure the successful completion of such an epic and although a great deal of discussion was had and every eventually buttoned-down as far as the group was concerned, their lack of experience in such events was soon to be realised.
The plan was that the walk would be spread over 4 days, the first stretch from Milngavie to Rowerdenan, 28 miles, was to be covered on day 1. This turned out to be a grossly over-ambitious first leg and all but foiled the great intentions at the first hurdle. One of our intrepid walkers discovered the cost of bad preparation only 14 miles in when the wrong choice of footwear had blistered his feet so badly that he had called it a day by the time we reached Drymen! This was a major blow at an early stage with the sponsorship hopes now relying on only three pairs of feet. By the end of the first day however, the 28 miles had taken their toll in the cruelest of ways with 2 of the other group members suffering so badly from fatigue that there were real concerns regarding their ability to carry on.
The morning of day 2 saw the remaining three rise from their slumbers with the worst-case scenario staring them right in the face, the two who had struggled on day one were in the most serious of discomfort, and simply rising for breakfast and ablutions was a painful and farcical process.
Never the less our 3 remaining heroes set off full of hope but weighed down with the burden of the 70 plus miles ahead of them, and the poor physical condition of 2 of their number, which was a very real worry indeed.
As it turned out the 2nd day only extended to about 8 miles for the injured pair, and a backup driver was called to rescue them from their torture. By the time he arrived however one of the two had recovered sufficiently that rather than head home, he decided to head off our loan walker who was estimated to be only a further 8 miles up the road by that time and then to complete the remaining miles with him. This they duly did, a fortunate decision in many ways, as the last man standing had fallen badly when crossing a high wooden style, trapping one of his feet between two of the steps, and had been left hanging by the leg with a full rucksack of clothes and provisions still attached to his back! Somehow he managed to free himself from his predicament but was in considerable discomfort after the event which had given him cause to consider the wisdom of proceeding on the walk alone. It was at this precise time that the others tracked him down, and after a bowl of warm soup and a couple of pints in the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, everything looked a good deal better so the two set of with high hopes of completing the job they had begun only 2 days earlier.
The rest of the walkthrough arduous still was completed on time. During the last 2 days, we found ourselves on several occasions in the company of 2 young guys, PE students who were doing the “Way” on a shoestring budget, with equipment and provisions which would have seemed more appropriate for a shopping trip to the Barras, yet as if they were on a summer stroll, the youngsters forged ahead as if this was something the did every day, waving back at us with a friendly smile as they marched on a quickly ahead growing smaller to our view with each painful step we took.
Nevertheless, the job got done, the legend of the West Highland Way was born and became the inspiration for many other similar adventures.
The fundraising objective was also achieved and well over £700 was raised for the lodge coffers, not an insignificant sum in the mid ’80s